Tattoos have gone viral! It’s as though everyone has them, and in obvious places where the whole world is able to see. But, is it okay for the dental professional who is constantly interfacing with patients? As the culture changes with this new generation we see an increase in the things that were once considered “taboo.” According to a report on Millennials by the Pew Research Center, “Nearly four-in-ten have a tattoo (and for most who do, one is not enough: about half of those with tattoos have two to five and 18% have six or more.)” Our generation is more adventurous but do standards still apply?
I have come across many predental and dental students asking if it would be okay to get tattoos on their arms and hands. I have also come across some dental students who already have them. I think a tattoo on the hand of a dental professional, or anyone in the medical field, gives the impression of unprofessionalism. The field is still quite conservative and medical professionals are usually held in high esteem. Patients perceive us as respectable, responsible and intelligent individuals and to me, a conspicuously placed tattoo questions that.
Yes, tattoos can be covered with long-sleeved shirts, lab coats and gloves. However, there comes a point when those garments are doffed and they will be seen. On the other hand, what if the tattoo signifies something very important to you like your religious beliefs, a cancer survivor’s ribbon, a memorial to a loved one? Is it okay then?
The fact is, tattoos are on the rise. The question that comes to mind is: where does one draw the line between cultural mores and the dental profession? I guess that the answer lies with the individuals and their choices; nevertheless, to me the standards of the profession need to be preserved.
What are your thoughts on the matter?
~Patrice Smith, Howard ’14